Student Journalism + Sex = Censorship

Student Journalism + Sex = Censorship. The formula holds true once again. Student journalists bring to light the relaxed morality of some students, and administrators want to restrict the free speech rights of the young. Despite the important information presented by the students, censorship rears its ugly head once more.

The Statesman, a Stevenson High School national award winning student newspaper, published a story about the “changing nature of dating encounters, explored the role of teen drinking and sex games, [and] explained chemical reactions in the brains of males vs. females” according to a Chicago Tribune article. Now a new policy has been created: “Starting with the next edition, the communication arts program director will review the stories after they’ve been approved by journalism adviser Barbara Thill.”

This reminds me of the story of the Jagwire here in my state of Washington. Apparently, when student journalists write stories about sex, district officials think censorship. However, parents are another matter entirely in the case of The Statesman:

The flap over the most recent Statesman drew a crowd of parents at last week’s school board meeting, but they weren’t there to complain about whether teen sex is newsworthy or whether the students had overstated things. They were worried about censorship…”I’m fully in support of any issue that gets the kids talking,” one parent said. Another suggested school officials “don’t want to look at what’s really going on in there.”

The parents understand the value of the student-journalism program, but the district leaders don’t agree and their votes tend to be the only ones that count. Seems as though the kids are on to something the adults don’t necessarily want to face.

I admit that lines can be crossed if students aren’t advised properly, but (again) this does not appear to be the case. The students presented a full spectrum of viewpoints and moved into the scientific realm. One commenter on the article, when refuting another commenter, stated that the notion “that the article itself was based on one student is blatantly wrong, there are multiple sources in BOLD. Also, the article was part of a package, which included other sources and viewpoints, including those of professional psychologists. There was ample research involved.”

The article’s author said this about the school district’s officials: “This isn’t about censorship, they insist. But there’s no other word for it.”

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